Is it the Boyne, or Scarva?

Nice line from Gerry Moriarty in the Irish Times today.

IS IT the Boyne or Scarva? Such was the question posed by a senior DUP source yesterday (which he couldn’t answer) about this standoff between Sinn Féin and the DUP over whether or not Gerry Adams will allow Peter Robinson to be elected First Minister tomorrow. If it’s the Boyne, as in the battle, then this could be a serious encounter between Sinn Féin and the DUP with the possible consequences of Assembly elections, and who knows what political crisis or crises thereafter.

Intriguingly, Sam Lister in the Belfast Telegraph notes that “speculation is mounting that Sinn Fein is being ripped apart by internal divisions sparked by pro- and anti-assembly camps.” It’s not something I can honestly say we’ve picked up here at Slugger, but it makes the statement from a DUP spokesman all the more intriguing:

“Whether Sinn Fein nominate or not, it’s not of huge concern to us. We are ready to fight an election. “It is not a wise course of action for them to take and I think some of the brains in the party will bring them to their senses.

In my own inquiries with the DUP, they did say that everything was working well and as normal up until two weeks ago when suddenly things began to go a bit sour. That would be just about enough time for the grass roots dissent over last year’s Ard Fheis motion on the devolution of Policing and Justice to make itself felt with the leadership.

In all honesty, that is not a problem the party can reasonably expect its political rivals and Executive colleagues to spend their own political capital in fixing. It’s strictly an internal matter for Sinn Fein. In which case it might be Scarva at Stormont, but a build up to the Boyne inside the party.

, , ,

  • Billy

    “In all honesty, that is not a problem the party can reasonably expect its political rivals and Executive colleagues to spend their own political capital in fixing.”

    Well SF went into the Assembly on good faith on the basis of the devolution of P&J;. They held onto their side of the bargain – it others cannot do that then an election is the best option for SF as they’ll not risk a “Boyne” inside the party further down the line. I’d say the Shinners are happy enough the way things are panning out so far. The DUP Director of Elections was in panic mode on the wireless this morning.

  • “Sinn Fein is being ripped apart by internal divisions sparked by pro- and anti-assembly camps”

    Complete and utter nonsense! I can’t believe that people get paid to write this kind of crap.

    “In all honesty, that is not a problem the party can reasonably expect its political rivals and Executive colleagues to spend their own political capital in fixing. It’s strictly an internal matter for Sinn Fein.”

    It is anything but an internal matter! Policing and Justice Powers were to be devolved by May and we were meant to have an Irish language act.

    These problems can’t be solved by Sinn Féin alone therefore it has to take an external avenue.

    Promises were made and good faith was shown by Republican’s.

    Sinn Féin has tried to make these institutions work in a spirit of compromise and with the best interests of all.

    The DUP mentality of “croppies lie down” will not be tolerated any longer. If the DUP don’t want to share the toys then the toys should be put back in the box.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s in there Billy, but despite endless attempts to spin a timetable as a deadline, the SAA does not oblige the DUP to let down those powers to Stormont within any given time frame. The problem arises from the party’s leadership’s committment to the base.

    I’m also not sure the options are as clean cut as you are suggesting. Forcing an unpredictable election will not change the outcome. Indeed, it could make things worse. Yesterday all the otehr parties told them they should get back into the Executive cockpit and negotiate.

    In short, the pressure here is entirely self inflicted. The best they can get out of this is some understanding with the DUP as to when, or under what conditions those powers might be let down. And it’s a tough one for them to save face on.

  • Driftwood

    Promises were made and good faith was shown by Republican’s.

    Are you bleeding serious?

    Put that line to David Trimble.

    cc it to Jeffrey.

    Anyone remember Blairs promises. If it’s not copperplated in writing, it’s not worth anything.

    Good faith….bloody cheek

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    This toy box was designed and signed off by Sinn Fein and the DUP. A bit like Labour (excepting Frank Field) and the 10p tax cut, no one in the party was complaining about it last year.

  • Mick

    That toy box was signed off with certain rules attached and one of those rules was the devolution of policing and justice by May of this year.

    The DUP, Brits and others knew what our Special Ard Fheis motion on Policing laid out.

    They knew what the parameters for our engagement were. By failing to live up to their end of the bargain they will have to accept the consequences.

    Thus far the DUP have shown themselves totally incapable of power sharing, that kind of old school posturing can only last so long before it is challenged and challenged hard.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Mick,

    “In all honesty, that is not a problem the party can reasonably expect its political rivals and Executive colleagues to spend their own political capital in fixing. It’s strictly an internal matter for Sinn Fein. In which case it might be Scarva at Stormont, but a build up to the Boyne inside the party”

    The greatest political similarity with events of the recent past was with decomissioning – where in that case Trimble jumped first because he knew that SF had to deliver. Unlike then everybody ( almost ) on the Nationalist side wants this to work. Presumably you thought that decomisisoning was internal matter as well for SF?

    This is a PEACE matter and concerns the both governements – as I suspect you well know – but hey who doesn’t like a good arguement.

  • graduate

    Chris,
    if your leadership sold you a pup over P&J;- tough! The DUP didn’t sign up to it and are simply playing the game SF played for so long and so well. It’s a taste of your own medicines back. Dawn Purvis was right when she said you need to learn that this is how real politics works and you should get used to it or get out of the game. politics is about negotiation and compromise, let’s see a bit of it from SF rather than throwing the toys out of the pram. As to an election- bring it on!

  • Ahem

    This really is the best laugh we’ve had in ages. Please, please, *please* let SF be stupid enough to collapse the executive and trigger elections. Please!

  • graduate

    Ahem,
    Couldn’t agree more

  • harry

    Awh Poor Chris stamps his wee feet… “waaaah S’not Fair!” “he said i could have that n’ i didnt get” and of course Gerry goes running telling tales to Downing Street.

    SF decided to work within the confines of a british partitionist assembly and are now throwing a tantrum about not getting their way. good enough for them, they derserve all they get

  • Dewi

    “politics is about negotiation and compromise”

    It is – and where has the movement been from the DUP? Crowing about that they’ve kept the Irish language out of Northern Ireland. No movement on P&J;. Appealing for votes otherwise “Dromore will end up like Drogheda”….compare and contrast with Tom Hartley’s stated commitment to all the people of Belfast.

    I don’t think Sinn Fein have anything to fear from an election…and he fact that all other parties want them to desist sort of proves that point…..Bring it on indeed

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    “…one of those rules was the devolution of policing and justice by May of this year.”

    That’s the spin. Here’s what Henson said in February last year:

    “Provided Sinn Fein continue to follow through on the clear commitment that they have given to support for policing and the courts—in the terms set out in paragraph six of the St Andrews Agreement and enshrined in the Ministerial Pledge of Office—then there is absolutely no reason why those powers will not be devolved in May 2008.”

    Strong, yes. Binding? Well here’s what he said a few moments later in response to a question Parliament:

    Lembit Öpik: I understand what the Minister says is the intent of the Bill, but will he answer the following question? Is it theoretically possible for a Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to use the powers in the new clause to establish a functioning Department if the Assembly does not support that or if it has major doubts about it?

    Mr. Hanson: No, it is not the intention—nor is the power available to the Government—to do that. Under the proposed legislation, the Government can establish a Department. That does not mean that the devolution of functions will occur, nor that the transfer will occur.

    In truth, the party has a political problem that some bright spark decided to try and solve by threatening to pull the house down. We can only speculate that it is because the party failed to deliver an internal promise to party activists. Of course this may just amount to what one wit described as ‘a madly amateurish plan hatched over a few pints in the Felons Club on a Sunday night.’

    Martin is already getting the denials in. But after yesterday’s performance at Stormont and Westminster, such denials are hardly plausible.

    Sammy,

    I think you’ll find the difference is the legal swots at the DUP have done their homework pretty thoroughly on this one. The analogy is obviously interesting, but ultimately misleading.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Mick,

    this little to do with legalities any everything to do with the British not allowing the work of decades to unravel.

    Do you not seriously think the DUP will have jumped before the new year at the latest?

  • Mick Fealty

    Sammy,

    If it’s not robust enough to stand on its own two feet, then that work of decades was obviously built with shoddy workmanship. Though I’m attracted to the conclusion that this was more indicative of a one-too-many-pint-driven initiative, than a serious political power play.

    I would not venture a guess on dates, although I’m certain it will happen it would be foolish to put a date on it. Events, dear boy, events.

  • observer

    Do you not seriously think the DUP will have jumped before the new year at the latest?

    Posted by It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it on Jun 04, 2008 @ 01:55 PM

    The sooner the Shinners stand down their army council the sooner P+J can be devolved. There hasnt been any rush for the former , so the latter is delayed

  • observer

    Wonder what else teh DUP will get as well as teh Army Council? Parades…Education…#

    SFs hissy fit could be an expense one for them

  • Jer

    I hadn’t seen this before so for those in the same boat as me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarva
    Scarva is a reenactment of the battle of the boyne.

  • interested

    I said on here yesterday that whilst all the spotlight has been on “sideshow Jim” and his circus known as the TUV hyping up what unionist dissent there is (exaggerated in Dromore because of local issues and timing of the election) that pressures on republicanism have kinda got away in the smoke.

    SF have had their stagemanaged meetings which have went reasonably well – ‘reasonably well’ of course in a SF meeting is utter failure because the stagemanagement has failed. There have been other meeting held by SF though out of the spotlight and its clear from those that there have been huge problems coming from the SF base – probably because they’re starting to realise that they were told porkies by beardie and smilie not just about P&J;but about what this whole devolution lark would mean.

    It is also about Gerry trying to re-establish himself. Quick quiz question for everyone: When was the last time Gerry Adams went to Downing St alone for talks with the PM?
    I never remember a single occasion in the last decade where there hasn’t been at least 2 SF delegates, and at the big ones it was always Adams and McGuinness together.

    While Marty’s been off touring the NY stock exchange, glad-handing the great and the good, getting moolas of good publicity Gerry has obviously been sitting at home (in his house in Donegal obviously!) quietly brooding about where it all went wrong. How could it be that he gets blamed for the reverse midas touch which was the RoI General Election last year but everyone loves good ‘ole Marty….

    Things haven’t been going well for the Adams wing for a while now. His golden girl Catriona has managed to right royally f*ck up Education and generally he looks a bit past it these days. No short wonder then that he wants to reinforce his importance. Some wonderboy then decided that the way to do this was to make Sinn Fein look like the Trimbleites of the 21st Century and threaten collapse because they’ve realised they were out-negotiated.

    Even if SF do get some figleaf to cover their inevitable retreat from the brink it will be matched many times over by whatever goodies the DUP will get from Brown, SF, or more likely, both.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Mick,

    if you want to use the building metaphor then the P and J is a central pillar and one of the suppliers (the DUP), because of internal organsiational difficulties (free Ps) can not meet it’s obligations as set out in (the spririt of) the contract (the STA) – hope that does not set Pete or yourself off again on one about the legalities or the Ard Fheis.

    The GFA/STA is an outstanding structure crafted by the Englezes and they are not going to let it be bulldozed before it is completed.

    Interested.

    If the DUP had the same view as your goodself then we would all be quids in – trouble is they cant bring themselves to say so publically – though I expect Robbo to see to it today.

    Fair play to Gordo for puting this at the top of his agenda though I think Grizzly should have rewarded him with a photo opportunity to boost his ratings.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Chris Gaskin,

    Promises were made and good faith was shown by Republican’s.

    [..]

    Sinn Féin has tried to make these institutions work in a spirit of compromise and with the best interests of all.

    These are almost verbatim quotations of Trimble, during the period when he was trying to get the IRA to disarm. Why have you adopted the tactics of intransigent unionism ?

    You’re going to end up looking like a prize eejit if the nomination goes ahead tomorrow with nothing concrete agreed. Are you going to bring another motion to the Ard Fheis ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Yup, the eejit prize has been awarded. Now Chris will have to explain to us all how his high talk of standing up to the DUP has resulted in what everyone predicted – a Sinn Fein climbdown with them agreeing to do their bit, but with no guarantees extracted from the DUP. What exactly was all that in aid of ?

    This sort of cynical bullshit is going to put people off politics altogether.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry Sammy, I’ve been chasing the story all day, and I’m now knackered. I have to admire your tenacity.

    Here’s the thing. We used to have a very well intentioned commenter here you used to argue that independence for NI under a written constitution was the only way to stop the UK from stop/starting the institutions to fiddle a little partisan detail here, or another partisan detail there.

    The DUP argues that the SAA was an end to that interventionism, that the process is no longer the policy to paraphrase Mandelson. Of course it remains to be seen whether that is so.

    There are two problems Republicans face in trying to get Brown to act like Blair did:

    One, Paisley has built a strong relationship with First Minster Salmond, who will look for any stick to beat Mr Brown with. Any breach of the Sewell Convention (however laudible the object of such a breach), will likely set off a nicely toxic reaction north of the Scottish border.

    Two, In two years time, if these negotiations continue for that length of time, Mr Cameron is likely to be in power. He likely to be even less sympathetic to a cap in hand approach.

    Compromises are available. P&J has largely been neutered politically, so in effect there is not a much in that prize as many SF activists seem to believe. It’s largely an ideological totem. Education is lumbering towards compromise anyway, but could usefully do with some sort of cross-cutting consensus. The Irish Language Act is just not going to happen, but policies could be initiated that effected some kind of benefit to the Irish language community.

    But this will ultimately be sorted out at Stormont in the narrow political interests of the ‘smoke break’ colleagues in the Executive: SF and the DUP. No one else.

    Only, I guess, those pensioners who’ve been panicking about the possibility of this all falling apart over what turns out to have been a massive ‘sham fight’ (the same one that was so presciently predicted by ‘sms’ months ago, I suspect) can go to their beds tomorrow night knowing that it didn’t fall apart after all.

  • Interested/Mick – two of the best posts here for a long time.

  • Les

    Chris Gaskin – The DUP mentality of “croppies lie down” will not be tolerated any longer.

    Wow, someone’s still suffering from a touch of the MOPE. Pity you never move beyond whining and you overwhelming sense of victimhood.

  • “You’re going to end up looking like a prize eejit if the nomination goes ahead tomorrow with nothing concrete agreed.”

    How do you work that out?

    Negotations continue, if the DUP do not take those negotations seriously then we will have a response from Sinn Féin. A line has been drawn in the sand, Robinson has been kicked in the balls before he even started. This was never about pulling the Assembly down, this is about ensuring that certain outstanding issues are addressed.

    If the DUP think tomorrow is some kind of victory then more fool them.